Tag Archives: art history

Marrying a rock

Mont Sainte-Victoire near Paul Cézanne’s home in Aix-en-Provence was one of his favorite subjects.  It was in painting this mountain that he developed the spatial effect (sometimes called flat-depth) that became the bridge between Impressionism and Cubism. Mont Sainte-Victoire is, therefore, not just a plein air motif but an icon in the development of modern […]


The state of Maine’s population is about the size of the Buffalo-Niagara metropolitan district. What that meant in human terms was brought home during this weekend’s caucuses. Imagine the sense of duty behind volunteering as a poll watcher in one of the places that returned two votes. Did they take turns filling out their ballots […]

Commissions you never get anymore

As the nation argues about super-delegates, it’s worth remembering that the powerful have never ceded power voluntarily. From Charlemagne to the Reformation, the primus inter pares of the European nobility was the Holy Roman Emperor, securely Catholic and crowned by the Pope. Along came Martin Luther and his pesky ideas, which percolated among the German nobility […]

The first sexy selfie

Sarah Goodridge was a prolific Boston-based portrait miniature painter. She was successful enough to be able to afford a house on Beacon Hill and to support her invalid mother and orphaned niece. Nor was she forced to be an itinerant, as so many early 19th century American painters were. Miniatures are a fascinating subset of portrait […]

An honest forgery

On October 18, 1969, two unidentified thieves entered the Oratory of San Lorenzo in Palermo, Sicily, armed with knives. They used these to cut away the great altar painting, which measured an astonishing 106 in × 78 in. The church was then systematically pillaged of all its art, including the inlaid choir stalls and benches. That painting was Caravaggio’s Nativity with […]

Painter of hard work

Jules Bastien-Lepage came from a little village in the Meuse, which is why he understood the work of the French peasantry so completely. He is widely known in the United States for his stunning Jeanne d’Arc (in the Metropolitan Museum in New York), but the main body of his work was rooted in the Naturalism movement of […]

History mystery

A joke from my youth: “Did you hear what happened when they removed all of Tammy Faye Bakker’s makeup? They found Jimmy Hoffa.” I was reminded of this after the announcement by French scientist Pascal Cotte that there is a painting of a different woman underneath the surface of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. “We can now analyze exactly […]